James W. Moyer
James W. Moyer, born 14 June 1949, grew up on a wheat farm near Walla Walla, WA. He received a B.S. in agronomy in 1971 from Washington State University and a Ph.D. degree in 1975 from The Pennsylvania State University under the direction of Sam Smith. After a postdoctoral position at the University of California-Davis, he joined the Department of Plant Pathology at North Carolina State University (NCSU) as an assistant professor in 1976.
Dr. Moyer is an international authority on viruses and other diseases of sweet potatoes. He characterized Sweet potato feathery mottle virus (SPFMV), the first and one of only four sweet potato viruses to be characterized to date, and his laboratory continues as the world source for antiserum and isolates for SPFMV. He was a pioneer in the meristem-tip culture and virus indexing of sweet potato germ plasm and, as a result, became the architect of the guidelines for the international movement of vegetatively propagated germ plasm as adopted by the International Board for Plant Genetic Resources of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. From 1976 to 1987, he contributed significantly to the understanding of diseases of sweet potato caused by Fusarium solani and Streptomyces ipomoea. He developed the techniques and methodology to screen for resistance to S. ipomoea in sweet potato germ plasm that are currently used in several state screening programs. His collaborative efforts also resulted in the release of five sweet potato cultivars.
In 1987, Dr. Moyer turned his research efforts to major viruses and virus diseases of vegetable, ornamental, and field crops, with special emphasis on the molecular characterization of tospoviruses. He discovered and has characterized a new tospovirus, Impatiens necrotic spot virus (INSV), which is the predominant cause of Tomato spotted wilt virus (TSWV)-like diseases in ornamentals in the United States. The evidence of the existence of more than one TSWV-like disease resulted in the demise of the long held belief that TSWV was a monotypic group, and contributed to the establishment of a new virus genus. He and his associates were the first to completely sequence and demonstrate the correct genomic organization of the M RNA of INSV as ambisense. Subsequent research has confirmed that tospoviruses are the only member of the Bunyaviridae with two ambisense RNAs. His research on the genetics of tospoviruses continues and supports continuing efforts on transgenic and host resistance to this type of virus. He has recently published the discovery of a strategy by which TSWV adapts to resistant cultivars, providing a major breakthrough in the understanding of the evolution of pathogenicity of this virus.
In addition to Dr. Moyer’s pioneering work on the biology of tospoviruses, his work has had an enormous impact on control of these viruses, particularly in the greenhouse floral industry. Soon after the discovery and characterization of INSV, Dr. Moyer produced antisera, which is the industry standard for routine diagnosis and indexing of this virus. Prior to the identification of INSV and the availability of this antisera, growers were unable to control this disease in greenhouse crops, and some abandoned production of the most susceptible crops. Dr. Moyer’s many contributions and eminence in the field of tospoviruses is well documented by invitations to write key reviews and chapters for publications such as the Annual Review of Phytopathology, the Ball Guide on New Guinea Impatiens, and the Encyclopedias of Virology, Microbiology, and Plant Pathology. He is a consultant for several international corporations and U.S. floral crop industries, and is routinely invited to present lectures and seminars. His pioneering work is responsible both for the resurgence of interest in the tospoviruses and the ability of the greenhouse floral industry to manage these devastating viruses.
Dr. Moyer teaches two graduate-level courses in the department and is an excellent advisor and mentor for graduate students. In the past 12 years, three of his Ph.D. students have received the N.C. State Department of Plant Pathology Nusbaum Award for the best departmental Ph.D. dissertation, and one of these students received the K.R. Keller Award for the outstanding dissertation in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Dr. Moyer has served on a large number of university, college, and departmental committees. He was elected chair of the University Research Committee in 1992 to 1993, and served from 1993 to 1994 as the coordinator for the NCSU component of a national study on Stresses on Research and Teaching in Research in Universities. He served as interim head of the Department of Biochemistry at NCSU from 1994 to 1997.
Dr. Moyer has developed a national and international reputation for excellence. He has been a senior editor of Phytopathology and served on standing and ad hoc committees, most recently on the APS Intellectual Property Rights Committee. He has been a panel member for the USDA/CSREES/NRI grants program, a member of the USDA Sweet Potato Crop Advisory Committee, and at the invitation of the International Potato Center (CIP), an evaluator of sweet potato programs in the Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Uruguay. He has collaborated with researchers and presented seminars or workshops by invitation in Argentina, Bulgaria, Colombia, Germany, Israel, Japan, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Peru, Scotland, Spain, Taiwan, and Uganda.